In this book James Calvin Davis reclaims the biblical concept of forbearance to develop a theological ethic for faithful disagreement. Pointing to Ephesians and Colossians, in which Paul challenged his readers to “bear with each other” in spite of differences, Davis draws out a theologically grounded practice in which Christians work hard to maintain unity while still taking seriously matters on which they disagree.
The practice of forbearance, Davis argues, offers Christians a dignified, graceful, and constructive way to deal with conflict. Forbearance can also strengthen the church’s public witness, offering an antidote to the pervasive divisiveness present in contemporary culture.
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Forbearance. It’s an old-fashioned word, perhaps, but if ever we needed to recover its use, now is the time. Our politics and economics, our communities and churches, and even our families are fractured by polarizing disagreements that often grow into debilitating conflicts. In this discerning book James Calvin Davis deftly narrates the meanings, spirit, power, and practice of ‘bearing with one another’ as a fundamental Christian civic virtue, one that can lead us into ways of dealing with our conflicts that are marked by wisdom, justice, faithfulness, and hope.
—Craig Dykstra, Duke Divinity School
Our disagreements would end more faithfully and constructively if every denomination and congregation began its arguments by reading this book.
—William H. Willimon in Christian Century
“Theological difference has been a constant in Christian community life: ‘the church has never said only one thing about God (or anything else for that matter)” (p. 8)’ In this book, Davis presents the necessity of developing and sustaining an approach to living with theological difference as a fundamental part of the theological task for all Christians.
—Anglican Theological Review
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James Calvin Davis is professor of religion at Middlebury College and an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). He is also the author of In Defense of Civility: How Religion Can Unite America on Seven Moral Issues That Divide Us.